Back in the present day, at the hair salon, Aisha asks Ifemelu how she got her papers. Aisha doesn’t have them and thus is unable to go home when her mother dies unless she marries Chijioke, her boyfriend, who can give her legal status. Ifemelu says that she will go speak to Chijioke the next day, tips Aisha twenty dollars, and leaves the salon.
When Ifemelu gets off the train in Princeton, Aunty Uju calls with the news that Dike overdosed on pills and is in the ICU. Ifemelu promises to come tomorrow.
Obinze anxiously awaits Ifemelu’s reply to his email, which comes four days later. He Googles Blaine, whom he thinks of as a “rival.” He emails Ifemelu back, writing about his mother and her death, and Ifemelu immediately replies, saying that Obinze’s mother “was everything I wanted to be.” Obinze enjoys “seeing his mother through [Ifemelu’s] eyes.” He writes back to her, saying, “with every major event that has occured in my life, . . . you were the only person who would understand.” She does not reply until she writes with the news that Dike has attempted suicide. Obinze reads the email as he and Kosi are in the car on their way to visit a potential school for Buchi, their daughter, and Kosi tells him, “Your mind is not here.”
Later, Obinze reads all of Ifemelu’s blog, and her voice feels so changed to him that “he felt a sense of loss, as though she had become a person he would no longer recognize.”
Ifemelu sleeps in Dike’s room, asking herself what Dike was thinking when he attempted suicide. She finds it strange that he still looks like himself after such a monumental event. She tells Aunty Uju that Dike’s depression “is because of his experience” as a black boy in America.
Dike’s seventeenth birthday approaches, and he jokingly asks to go to Miami, but Ifemelu really takes him there. She wishes “he would remain a child; if he remained a child then he would not have taken pills.”
Dike tells Ifemelu that she should go back to Nigeria as she had originally planned. She invites him to come visit, and he agrees.
Back in Lagos, Ifemelu feels overwhelmed by the thrum of the city. Much has changed since she was last there, and Ranyinudo teases her that she is “looking at things with American eyes.” Ifemelu plans to stay with Ranyinudo, though Ranyinudo hasn’t had electricity for the last week.
Over dinner, Ranyinudo catches Ifemelu up on the gossip and news of all that’s occurred since she was last in Nigeria. Ifemelu imagines that Ranyinudo’s life is what “would have been her life if she had not left”: underpaid and dating a married man. Ifemelu finds comfort in the fact that she has an American passport, as “it shielded her from choicelessness. She could always leave; she did not have to stay.”
As they go to bed, Ifemelu complains about the way the humidity makes it difficult to breathe. Ranyinudo laughs and calls Ifemelu “Americanah.”
Ifemelu gets a job working at a women’s magazine called Zoe. A small and somewhat provincial magazine, Zoe competes with Glass and Ifemelu has ideas to improve the publication. Her boss, Aunty Onenu, seems taken aback by Ifemelu’s expertise but tolerates it because Ifemelu is from America.
Ifemelu imagines she sees Obinze everywhere in Lagos, but it’s never him.
She rents her own apartment in Ikoyi and pays for two years of rent with a single check. When Ifemelu...
(This entire section contains 1208 words.)
gets in a disagreement with a tile man over the quality of his work on the floor in the bathroom, she shames him and has him redo the work. Ranyinudo tells her, “You are no longer behaving like an Americanah!”
Ifemelu continues to email Obinze, but her messages are brief; she deliberately writes so that Obinze will assume she’s still in America.
Ifemelu sees her parents on the weekends, and the neighbors are excited to visit and talk to the woman who has lived in America. She has not told her parents that she has broken up with Blaine, but lied and said that a “work issue had delayed his visit.” As she reconnects with friends, Ifemelu finds the topic of marriage to inevitably rise, and she uses Blaine “as armor” to fend off questions about her own marital status. Her friend Priye, a wedding planner, announces, “the first rule of life in this Lagos. You do not marry the man you love. You marry the man who can best maintain you.” Ifemelu can almost see herself marrying Blaine in a beach wedding.
Ifemelu’s coworkers at Zoe are Esther, the receptionist; Doris, an editor; and Zemaye, the assistant editor. Doris worked in New York before coming to Lagos. She invites Ifemelu to come with her to the “Nigerpolitan Club,” which is “a bunch of people who have recently moved back, some from England, but mostly from the U.S.”
When Doris leaves, Zemaye asks Ifemelu about her blog. Ifemelu says, “I discovered race in America and it fascinated me.” Zemaye notes that “all the criminals are black people” on the show Cops.
Ifemelu goes to a Nigerpolitan Club meeting with Doris and the other attendees, who are “the sanctified, the returnees, back home with an extra gleaming layer.” They talk about what they miss from America, and Ifemelu finds herself uncomfortable with how comfortable she feels.
Ifemelu sees a man who reminds her of Obinze, and she wonders what he would think of this club. A man named Fred flirts with Ifemelu, inviting her to a concert. Though she doesn’t like classical music, she invites Fred to call her.
Ifemelu finally begins feeling like she has returned home. However, she is dissatisfied at work, where all she does is attend parties to mingle and interview rich women who thank God for their blessings. She considers starting a new blog, “writing about what she cared about, building it up slowly, and finally publishing her own magazine.” At a party, Ifemelu again imagines that she sees Obinze.
One morning, all of the magazine staff are bickering with one another. As they present their article ideas to Aunty Onenu, Ifemelu becomes frustrated that they’re always “playing it safe” in their interviews and profiles. Esther reveals that she has typhoid and shows Ifemelu the pills the doctor gave her. Inspired, Ifemelu suggests that the magazine have a health column. She begins to imagine her new blog as being “nothing like the Zoe stories.”
The women tease Esther about her faith and that she’s diagnosed each of her colleague’s “spirits.” Ifemelu suggests an article about churches, and the other women dismiss it. Doris reveals that the women who are profiled “pay Aunty Onenu” to appear in the magazine. Ifemelu tells the women that she doesn’t think they “stand for anything at all,” and in return Doris calls her a “judgmental bitch.” Ifemelu leaves the office feeling ashamed of her behavior.